Antrim/Newtownabbey councillors hand themselves pay rise amid pandemic

The SDLP has issued an announcement tonight calling a reported pay hike for councillors on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council “unjustifiable”.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 10:26 pm

The pay rise comes amid grave economic turmoil caused by the Covid pandemic.

There is virtually zero information on the council’s website about this pay hike; all that is written on the outline agenda for tonight’s meeting is as follows:

“Members will recall that at the December 2019 Council meeting it was agreed that an external consultant be appointed to review the Scheme of Allowances

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payable to Members.

“An evidence based report, which takes into account allowances paid in other Councils, with recommendations for consideration regarding allowances payable to Members is enclosed.”

Despite saying details were enclosed, none were, and a hunt through the council’s website brought up no information about the scale of the hikes.

But according to media reports, the mayor’s pay will rise from just over £14,000 to £21,000 by mid-2022.

That is on top of councillors’ basic allowance (as their wages are known) of £15,486 per year.

It was also reported that the group leaders of the various parties on the council will see an increase in their pay too, based on how big a presence their party has on council.

SDLP group leader Roisin Lynch said her party opposed the proposed increase.

She said: “While people and businesses are recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic across our district, it is totally unjustifiable for councillors to be awarding themselves a pay increase.

“Less than a year ago, this council was considering compulsory redundancies.

“What kind of message does it send to our staff and ratepayers that one of our first actions as we rebuild from the pandemic is to award substantial pay increases to councillors?

“At a time when we should be listening to the serous concerns of the people we represent, councillors have shown nothing but tin ears.

“SDLP councillors voted against this proposal. Just as we opposed the compulsory redundancy plan.

“It is extremely disappointing that the DUP, UUP and Alliance Party ignored our concerns and voted themselves a pay rise.”

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